Tag Archives: science

I’m Puzzled about Mankind

[thoughts from    ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

Hi, this is me, and yes, I’m talking to myself again.  Who else would be here to talk to at 10:30 in the evening?

So, what’s so important, I had to close down my evening reading for?

As per usual, I’m wondering about the fate of mankind.  OK, forget that.  I’m puzzled about mankind, is that better?

In some sort of normal scheme of things, if a group of intelligent beings were made aware that what they are doing, as a collective, is endangering the majority of their group, perhaps all of it by also endangering the one and only world they can survive on, one would think they would stop just long enough to consider this possibility, check out the best possible information, correlate the data and if in fact it looked like it was indeed the case, decide on a course change?

Of course I’m speaking of normal reaction to a serious situation.  Is it a fact then that one cannot expect a normal reaction from the collective that likes to think of itself as human, and calls itself mankind?  The collective that certainly considers itself “the smartest guys in the room”?  When was the last time people chose to give planetary leadership to, say, the whales, the elephants, the chimps, the gorillas, the lions, the cheetahs, the cottontail rabbits or the mountain bluebirds?  Even less drastic, when was the last time people chose a tribe of aborigines to rule the planet, using only their tribal rules of interaction with each other and the environment?

This is the problem, you see?  Modern, Techno Man has held the reins of power for far too long, never willing to concede defeat regardless of how many of his own civilizations he destroyed and caused to collapse.  Hubris, pure and simple.  A belief in some theory that man, only man, can rule this world.  No one else gets a chance, it’s a closed rule.  So even if mankind is on the verge of collapsing another civilization, and with it, billions of his own, not to mention the shock-wave effect upon the planet when the collapse inevitably turns to blood and gore, even “limited” nuclear war.

It’s one thing to be intelligent, and certainly mankind is an intelligent species; it’s an entirely different thing to be what I’d call a holistic being.  Intelligence serves evil just as handily as it does those who would do only good.  Intelligence is a tool, nothing more.  It is not a mark of character.  Intelligence doesn’t automatically confer the right to rule, and it follows, to despoil, upon anyone.  In fact if intelligence was used properly, it would lead in the opposite direction so right there we know intelligence, or “IQ” is not how we measure worth, no more than using a monetary factor.

Organized religion, the modern world’s once unchallenged ruler, has taken a bit of a pounding since the last century and deservedly so.  However, having been replaced by science as the new god of the age, things have not gotten any better.  That is because, like religion, science is but a tool of capitalism, i.e. greed, and when you have mostly tools operating a tool, you are going to have a lot of inhuman happenings in the shop and around the yard.  That’s what we’ve been seeing, a whole lot of inhuman happenings.  Highest on the pedestal of scientific achievements: weapons of mass destruction and weapons of all sorts have proliferated.  Those are great for killing people, but surely science can provide other great sources of profit.  Indeed, it proved itself once more in a cornucopia of devilish chemicals to kill bugs and weeds.  DDT,  Malathion, Glyphosate, 2,4-D, Roundup (for those GMO crops!) and… remember Napalm? Killing bugs, weeds, trees and people, in one fell swoop in fiery infernos.  Makes one want to get on the knees and worship in ecstasy, doesn’t it? 

Undoubtedly some will jump to the defense of science and claim it has ushered in many great accomplishments.  Perhaps, but I’ll say this: all, bar none, of those accomplishments were done for profit, and continue to be done for profit, including any and all new drives in “clean” energy, and all monetary profit is always, without fail, to the detriment of the planet and the people.  Science is thus a bit more than a tool, it is a brash and proud whore of capitalism.

I could list a whole lot more of science’s infernal inventions unleashed upon insects, plants, animals and people world-wide.  The thing is, most people reading about such things just shut down.  “Does not compute” — “Change the channel, please!”  Most people can’t even face the things they know themselves to be in collusion with.  It all has to do with intelligence.  Consumers know how they get their mosquito-free pond setting environment; their bug-free flowers and their relatively cheap goods, no denying that, despite all the happy people in the commercials, they know about the poisons, the exploitation of labour, the oppression of dispossessed minorities and refugees, the endless extortion of life from the poor globally.  They know.  But with a great deal of help from their programming, they choose to ignore the warnings that such things have never ended well before.

Near the end of this internal monologue I realize once again that such things as I’m seeing here today have never boded well for any other civilization.  When you see rising corruption in places of power, you see more wars of extortion.  You see a general breakdown of many good things some societies had managed to set up for themselves.  You see more repression at home, on the streets.  More police armed for war and looking for mass confrontation.  More “security” everywhere.  You see personal freedoms taken away one by one, then two by two, then all gone.  You see razor wire fences going up and more prisons.  You experience racism and segregation when you thought you’d done away with such evils. 

You did not, and you never will, simply because your programming tells you it’s fixable.  You can patch it.  So your system plays you.

One example, for Americans.  Recently there was some concern that a known pedophile running as a Republican would be elected to the senate.  Oh, the uproar!  Then “miraculously” the “good guy” predictably a Democrat, won.  Jubilation in the ranks.  And the wheel turns, the game goes on and none are the wiser.  So the Democrats, if there’s still a country left standing after the current fiasco regime, will return to power, and to all their sleazy games which are just put on hold while the Republicans do the dirty work of validating a glorious return for their opposition.  There’s intelligence here, surely or at least method to madness.

So, what are you actually puzzled about then?

If I were offered a way out of a predicament that spelled so much doom, wouldn’t I take it?  Would I just shrug it off, or argue against it when all of my arguments have already proved to be false?  Surely there is some room for intelligent intelligence here, on this world?

Good luck with that one girl, you’re on the wrong planet, but don’t give up, you’re almost done!

Yeah, I wondered about that, and thanks for reminding me.

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Oh, History! My Life and my Bane!

         [a short story from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]
    Leo thought himself well read and educated.  He’d mastered history, myths and legends of Earth and at twenty three he was pondering his future.  After so many years at the University however, becoming a professor didn’t have the appeal it once had.  Travel he could afford but everything went too fast.  Here today, there tomorrow and nothing in-between.
His doorbell rang.  He ignored it and it continued until he was forced to answer.
“Yes?  Who is it?” he called through the speaker phone.
“An old friend passing through.  Have time for me?”
“Hm, and who would be this old friend, if I may ask?  I don’t open my door to strangers, especially those who claim old acquaintance.”
“I am Thero.  You know me from your lucid dreams, and visions, yes?”
Leo rubbed his forehead, then tapped his left hand on the door to ensure he was awake.
“This isn’t possible.  Thero is a figment of my imagination…”
“More than that, Leo, much more.  Will you let me in?”
Leo waited a few seconds and opened the door.  What he saw shocked him to put it mildly: it was Thero, the very same character he’d come to know in some dreams and vision, the one he credited for giving him direction on his historical research.
“Come in… um, Thero; please come in.  I apologize for my reluctance but I still can’t believe it can possibly be you.  You… you’re a dream character!”
“Yes well, you got the “character” part right anyhow.  Shake?”  He proffered his hand and Leo shook it.
“OK, fine.  I’ll allow for the moment that you look and sound like the Thero I imagined.  Do you drink?  I mean, alcohol?”
“Oh yes!  I could use a glass of Chardonnay.”
“You also knew that’s my favourite wine and I always have some in the house, right?”
“But of course.” answered Thero while Leo got the wine from the fridge and dusted two tall glasses never used since he’d moved to the tiny house which his uncle Doug rented him after Doug’s wife took him to the cleaners and left to marry her masseur.  Leo poured and filled both glasses, handing one to Thero.
“Now some serious talk.  First, how did you know about my imaginary “teacher” Thero, and what he looked like?”
“Because I am he,” said Thero matter-of-factly, and smiled broadly.
“Oh cut the crap, and cut to the chase.  I know you’re an impostor, so what do you want with me?”
“Look Leo, if you’re absolutely certain I’m an impostor, shouldn’t you be doing something like calling the police, or at the very least, throwing me out?”
“Granted, I’m ambivalent about it.  Since I see no harm in playing this game, what is it you want?”
“As Thero you accept me as a Teacher, so let’s just say I’m here to further your education on the history of your people and your planet.  Can you spare me some time to do that?”
“You know I could never resist a challenge when it comes to history…”
“Stop.  You said, and I quote: ‘You know’ implying that you believe and accept I am your ‘imaginary’ Teacher Thero, is that not so?”
Leo stopped to ponder the question for a stretched moment then shrugged.  “I’ll concede that you are Thero so we can carry on with this conversation.  Is the wine to your satisfaction, Teacher?”
“That it is.  A very good light wine.  Now then, since this isn’t being done in a dream, may I suggest you equip yourself with some sort of recording device?  Can your cell phone record our conversation?”
“I’ve got it on now.  I’m ready.”
“Good.  If you allow me leeway and don’t interrupt too much this should not take more than a few hours.  I would prefer the dream method but I wanted this on the record, so to speak.  Now then, let’s start with some remarks about the general social condition of your people.
There are things you do, as a species, that belie your claim to humanity; further, that put in question your claim to be an intelligent species.  Some, like your exploitation and wars are obvious.  Others, like your insistence on wearing clothes when they are not needed, expensive, cumbersome, ridiculous, sweaty and stinky, harbouring diseases, among other things, say much about you as a society.  Already from these few comments you should detect distrust, greed, fear, judgment and a massive dose of control over others.
“The need to control is a form of psychopathy that leads to misogyny and racism, which in turn leads to violence of the absolute worse kind.  Bottom line, despite all your glowing mission statements which you dub constitutions, you remain pathetically fearful and hate-filled and prone to commit mass murder over any imagined slight.  You exploit from raw greed and oppress in order to gain power over others.  You want to be rulers.  You want to be gods in your own right and if you cannot do it as individuals then you come together in, or form, groups which you use to force your ways upon others.  These power collectives are as old as your particular species.  They began as families, then tribes, then collections of tribes which became nations and collections of nations which became empires.
“The goal of any empire is simple enough: to have absolute control over its sphere of influence, usually the known world.  If your species was to be allowed space travel it would continue this pattern, spreading out to establish even more expansive, oppressive, war-mongering empires.  Woe to any other sentient species that found itself in the way of expanding Earthian hegemony.  Forced conquest would be endless.  Entire worlds would be destroyed.  All life encountered would automatically be deemed less than human and subject to exploitation, enslavement and/or destruction to make way for new Earthian civilizations.  Only an already established, violent and war-mongering civilization on par or militarily superior to Earthian conquerors could hope to stop the onslaught.  This would result in bringing the conflict to the Earthians’ home planet, resulting in its enslavement or complete destruction through the inevitable use of nuclear arms.
“That is how it is.  We of the galactic races know this pattern having encountered it many times and having had to either destroy them in their advances, subdue them, or civilize them and make them a part of the greater galactic family of sentients.  This is history for another time.  I don’t want to wander too far from the point of this teaching.
“My dear Leo, despite your many degrees in historical and associated knowledge, much of which is due to our subtle input, you remain abysmally ignorant about what makes your particular species act the way it does.  When you know more about us you will be able to compare and see how much of what you call your civilization is comparable to an insane asylum crammed with billions of crazies desperately feeding upon whatever the asylum is made of and on each other.  You will see that the more sociopathic of your species are those generally entrusted to rule the asylum.  Better to have a crazy ruler than none at all is how you put it and since you’re all more or less certifiable, why would you think otherwise?  You fear and hate because you distrust one-another.  You can never have true peace and safety for the same reasons.  Earth, Leo, is hell.  Now to explain.
“It isn’t just you, as a species, that makes this world a hell.  It is the forces that inhabit and control it.  One of your most “cherished” beliefs, apart from believing in your fairy-tale gods, is that your world keeps itself in balance due to an “evolved” concept called predation, or natural selection: the survival of the fittest.  You can’t even begin to imagine a world where such an insane psychopathic system could not exist.  You accept the horror and terror you observe in your “nature” to justify your own sick need to express violence against your world and the physically, militarily or financially weaker members of your own society.  You “hunt” and “fish” for pleasure; for something to brag about when it’s nothing but abysmal shame on your claim to being human and humane beings.  You go to war, commit genocide, enslave your own children, rape your own women, while comparing yourselves to the ruling members of a pride or pack of predators.  Do you not, in your killing games and violent sports extol and emulate the qualities of your greatest predators?
“Have I made a point, so far, Leo?”
“Yes Teacher, you have.  When you put it that way, it makes me feel pretty small and hopeless.”
“That was my intent.  The first thing is to crush the ego; the pride.  Now to continue.  ‘Must we’ I hear you thinking.  Yes we must.  You need to understand the why of things or you can never, ever, hope to change any of it, including and especially, yourself.
“Mythical fact: your world is a “re-manufactured” entity.  It has changed hands many times and gone through several transformations.  The biblical book of Genesis points to at least two of those transformations.  I’ll let you figure those out for yourself.  Earth’s owners, the ones you’ve called “gods,” “divinities,” “God” or “alien visitors,” have come and gone from here over the eons, most of that barely suspected even by your most astute observers.  They knew that “something happened here” but they could never know what because they lacked the broader perspective of time and space.   Currently some of your observers and more spiritual people sense that nothing is as advertised; that “something is going on here” and speculations on what that is run wild on your Internet; in your books, magazines, movies or news and entertainment media.  It’s always been that way: some always suspect but no one ever knows for a fact.  Your religious leaders and many of your scientists hate being without facts so they’ve been manufacturing their own “facts” to suit their various theories, or to establish themselves within the status quo.  This also is suspected and talked about, but again: no facts.
“How does one maintain absolute power?  By dissembling.  This is the basis for all successful political movements.  Think of this: “As below, so above.”  We use it this way to explain how to understand the political aspects of the universe.  If you observe “it” on earth, it is safe to project “it” throughout the entire universe.  It could not work “here” if it wasn’t the modus operandi every known universal “where” you can imagine.  Earth may be a hell hole but it isn’t the only one.  There are even worse ones “out there” if you can imagine.  By the same token, the good you can observe on earth, percentage-wise, is the good you could observe in the whole universe… percentage-wise.  This to force you to think universally now.  Project your mind to the ends of the universe, Leo.  Time for some serious lateral thinking.
“What I’ve been trying to point out to you is that the concept of “facts” was invented to force reasoning creatures into strict vertical thinking patterns so they would increasingly squeeze their minds into tighter and tighter areas to the point where they could no longer go out on a limb in their thinking.  They would always need data, or facts, to justify their line of inquiry.  They would learn to never trust their intuition or imagination.
“Nothing could be more deadly to the historian.  History is not based on facts but on imagination and speculation.  Ultimately what constitutes your current history is what the consensus has declared to be the truth. That consensual agreement is then taught to children trapped in “universal” education.  Call it what it is: brainwash.  The whole point is to have an entire reasoning species conditioned to accept “things as they are” and not feel the need to question it.
“Earth is one of trillions of worlds under the domination of certain forces in control of the universe.  These forces came here long before this solar system existed.  They systematically conquered and established control over most of the universe.  Wars of conquest, wins and losses, go on to this day.  Every part of the universe, every conquered galaxy exists in endless conflict.  Not all of it is military, in fact very little is.  The wars are fought in what we call the spirit realm, which extends down into the minds of sentients and their sentient worlds.  If “evil” wins then the world, or galaxy (or parts thereof) become subject to the rules of such evil.  The conquering, ruling forces are pathocratic and their subject servants (basically all of your rulers, whether you like to hear it or not) are sociopathic by conditioning.
“Now do you understand what you are up against when you study your history?  You’re up against millennia of lies and fabrications.  You’re up against endless “false flag” operations that have lead to horrors uncounted; to wars, enslavement and genocide.  The whole point isn’t to gain control of this or that part of a world: of a nation or a people.  The point is to foment violence.  Any method is good but the one that creates the most pain and horror is always the best.  I can assert that in your pre-historical (or pre-hysterical) past your world knew nothing of predation.  In those times it was ruled by a benevolent, subsequently demonized, female entity called “Lucifer” – she who rebelled against the evil of those “Lords” who conquered her worlds and enslaved her and her people.  The one who was “cast to the earth” along with a third of the contingent of “angels” or servants of the “Lords” who had learned from her and fallen in love with her people.  Of course the story of Lucifer had to be recast to make the “god” look good and her the demonic rebel.  So it was, so it is, so it will be, Leo, until some greater force can destroy the hegemony of those who call themselves the “Time Lords.”
“I’ve heard you speak of these “Time Lords” before but my mind refuses to accept that such a system exists; that such evil entities conquered and control most of the universe.  It makes no sense to me.  Why, if they are so powerful, do they hide themselves in the so-called spirit realm?  Why can’t they be seen?”
“You’ve studied the myths, yet you ask such childish questions, Leo?  Really!  Think laterally, I tell you.  Free your mind, Leo.  Imagine encountering an actual Time Lord or a close minion while you are in the flesh.  Imagine looking one in the eyes.  Do you see what would happen?”
“Thinking freely here… I would go blind.  My flesh would burn up and my body shrivel and become ash.”
“Exactly.  ‘No one can see God and live’ remember that?  The Bible is more than myth.  It isn’t fact but it is history.”
“What must I do now then?  Go teach lies to make a living?  Quit all of it and… what?”
“It’s all lies Leo.  You can only teach lies.  You can only know lies.  There are good lies and bad lies.  Go teach the good ones and continue to search for “the truth” and eventually it will begin to reveal itself to you like a lover unveiling and disrobing herself for you.  When that happens though, you will no longer be able to teach but you won’t care, you’ll have a treasure of greater value than anything the earth or its history can give you.”
“Is “the truth” then that greater power that can defeat the Time Lords, Teacher?”
Thero smiled and replied:  “I sense that I haven’t wasted my time with you Leo.  Keep thinking.  Keep imagining.  Keep living.”  Thero got up and turned towards the exit.  Leo, seeing his time was up, got up from his chair also and escorted the Teacher to the door.
“See you again, Thero?”
The Teacher turned,  smiled broadly and replied enigmayically: “Perhaps.”  Then he was gone.
Leo woke up with a start when the door bell rang.  As he got up to answer he noticed his phone was set to “Record.”


“For our struggle isn’t against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  (Ephesians 6:12, the Bible, New Testament)

 

Limits and Inevitability, Environmentally Speaking

                  [thoughts from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

We understand “inevitability” don’t we?  We understand “limitations” don’t we?  A parking area designed for a compact car will not accommodate a motor home.  We know this.  So, what else could we know, if we wanted to?

Let’s look at our “global parking space.” 

As populations increase, so must, and will, poverty.  As poverty becomes endemic, so will famine follow suit.  With famine will come diseases.  With disease will come the draining of drug supplies and medical expertise.  There are many “planners” and would-be scientists who deny this, of course.  Science, this great god full of magical powers can always fix whatever doesn’t work, can’t it?  Evidence?  Who needs that when we can substitute faith.

Yes, faith.  Science can grow more crops, hence more food.  Science can make potable water from salty seas and oceans.  Scientific engineering can make more accommodations within expanding cities by building higher.  So what if science and technology caused anthropomorphic climate change?  We can now apply them to fixing it, better than new.  So, goes the thinking, science is what we need more of to solve our problems of overpopulation, famine and disease.  More highrises; more GMO crops; more vaccines, and consequently more “security” and militarism to control dissidents.

Let’s ignore the giant question marks raised by the previous claims and look at what our science cannot do.

Science cannot make the earth bigger than it is; cannot create more space on it; cannot produce more arable lands: agreed?  Since we’re still adding to the exponential population growth, and exponentially taking out of the earth more natural, or raw resources, and since earth is a planet, not a cornucopia, with a limited amount of such resources available without resorting to catastrophic scientific methods to extract these resources (heard of fracking anyone?) then obviously two things are in the process of happening despite all hopes, wishes and promises to the contrary: the damage being done to earth’s inner surface infrastructure and it’s surrounding ecosphere, or biosphere if  you prefer, is irreversible, and anything on it dependent upon potable water for growth and survival has already reached crisis point.

Yes, there are places where they are growing forests at the edge of the desert.  I’m not asking where the water to keep those trees alive comes from.  I’m wondering out loud if such efforts should be considered to be realistic in solving man’s food and famine problems and after wondering out loud, the answer is, pretty silly when superimposed upon the overall picture.  Basically, though a feel-good effort that can be touted as a great improvement, isn’t it a lot of fiddling while Rome is burning?

Should we, as an “intelligent” (say what?) species be looking at the massive deforestation currently taking place in temperate and equatorial zones rather than counting successfully planted shrubs on the north edge of the Sahara?  Have we all become “Marie Antoinnette’s” vis-a-vis earth, patting it on the head and sincerely saying, “Just eat cake.”  Hasn’t earth heard of Ronald Reagan’s trickle down theory?  While we gouge moon craters to extract crude from tar sands; while we burn thousands of acres of trees to grow cash crops in the Amazon basin and other places, surely those potato peels and lettuce leaves from our composting will easily take up the slack.

While I seem to have broached the problem of potable water and considered the processes of desalinization of sea water, is it politically correct to wonder, again out loud, just exactly what is being done with the salt being extracted?  If it’s dumped back in the ocean, will that not increase the salt content, endangering sea life in the area of the dumping before currents spread the salt more or less evenly again?  With enough extraction, will that not cause a global rise in salinization?  We could rationalize that it will be a “long time” before a deadly level of salinity accumulates, but are we going there?  The Dead Sea, also known in Arabic as the Salt Sea, has a level of salinity 9 times the norm.  Great for swimming on, but it’s essentially dead, devoid of plants and fish.  While it is rapidly drying up, is it trying to tell us something?

If the salt is being spread upon the ground, there is an old belief about salting the earth, and quote from Wikipedia: “Salting the earth, or sowing with salt, is the ritual of spreading salt on conquered cities to symbolize a curse on their re-inhabitation.[1][2] It originated as a symbolic practice in the ancient Near East and became a well-established folkloric motif in the Middle Ages.[3] Although concentrated salt is toxic to most crops, there is no evidence that sufficient salt has been applied to render large tracts of land unusable.”

An interesting closing observation, to which it is more than tempting to add… “yet.”  Food for thought?  We exist, live, survive perhaps, on a finite planet, within a finite environment.  We can throw as much “science” at this ball of polluted and disappearing potable water, thinning sub-soil, sand, rock and molten iron and whatever else it may contain as we desire, or can muster, but “science” and “technology” aren’t bottomless sources of magic.  Every scientific/technological discovery or improvement has a material cost paid for by the world we live on, a cost that “greed-capitalism” has never allowed to be factored in its cost analyses.

More than interestingly, as a global civilization made up of a bunch of nation states, we are all indebted to some kind of black hole we can only sink deeper into.  For the USA, the stats are, $20 trillions for its governing apparatus, combined with $62 trillions of corporate and personal debt.  Grand total: $82 trillions.  That’s a loud “ouch” for anyone who can partially comprehend such numbers.  The “richest and most powerful” country in the world has by far the most per-capita debt.  What interests me in this is, how much “in debt” to the supporting environment is man’s earth in its current state of pillaging, raping and despoiling of its natural resources?

Make no mistake about this: there is a massive natural debt accumulated since the European-based empires set out a-conquering and pillaging the earth.  The momentum has only increased exponentially over the years and has reached an untenable, unsustainable, rate of “borrowing.”  Much of that borrowing became environmental pollution (smoke and smog, spills, garbage dumps, paving, cementing, and holding it all together, wars, wars, and more wars.)  This in turn has become man-made climate change.

Have we reached the point of no return?  Oh yes, as a civilization, we definitely have.  That is why the general thinking has become one of dumb acceptance.  If we can’t turn it around, why worry?  Be happy!

Instead of closing on this “happy” note, let’s introduce a question: logically speaking,  what kind of “tour de force” would it take to stop the pillaging and repay the debt we owe the earth, a collective debt that is about to all but destroy us?  Could we envisage such a global sacrifice in order to set in motion a livable future for those who come after us?  How would we go about this assuming we cannot use any previous method known to have NOT worked?

 

Tomgram: Alfred McCoy, Trumping the Empire

NOTE:  I’m posting this copy of a “Tomgram” article for 2 reasons.  

One, this particular article (I’ve read many others with a similar theme but none as clearly stated) “validates” what I said about Donald Trump as a potential POTUS when he first entered the race for president of the US of A.  What I said then, and have repeated so many times since that it feels this has been going on for years, is this:  Were I an American citizen entitled to vote I’d vote for Donald Trump.  For one reason only.  I see Trump as the perfect architect of the irrecoverable downfall of the American military-industrial corporate empire and attendant hegemonic powers.  I would vote for Trump as the instrument millions of America’s victims of US-based corporate exploitation and USA military oppression have been waiting and praying for since that empire’s military defeat in Vietnam.  My thoughts were never meant as any kind of anti-American people statement but as an anti-hegemon dream fulfillment. 

Two, for the “2020” scenario of US military debacle in the Middle East at the end of this article.  Not only is it quite entertaining, to some of us who “live” our current history in mind and heart, it is a prophecy.   (Sha’Tara) 
____________________________________________________________________________

Posted by Alfred McCoy at 4:23pm, July 16, 2017.
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[Note for TomDispatch Readers: In September, Dispatch Books will publish the next in our line-up of explorations of imperial America: Alfred McCoy’s remarkable In the Shadows of the American CenturyKirkus Reviews has praised it as “sobering reading for geopolitics mavens and Risk aficionados alike, offering no likely path beyond decline and fall.” Among the impressive range of comments we’ve gotten on it come two from Pulitzer Prize winners. Novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer, writes that McCoy “persuasively argues for the inevitable decline of the American empire and the rise of China… Let’s hope that Americans will listen to his powerful arguments.” And historian John Dower states that the book “joins the essential short list of scrupulous historical and comparative studies of the United States as an awesome, conflicted, technologically innovative, routinely atrocious, and ultimately hubristic imperial power.” As with all his work since the CIA tried to stifle his classic first book, The Politics of Heroin, back in the early 1970s, McCoy’s is leading-edge stuff and a must-read, so reserve your copy early by clicking here. Tom]

I was 12. It was 1956. I lived in New York City and was a youthful history buff. (I should have kept my collection of American Heritage magazines!) Undoubtedly, I was also some kind of classic nerd. In any case, at some point during the Suez crisis of that year, I can remember going to the U.N. by myself and sitting in the gallery of the General Assembly, where I undoubtedly heard imperial Britain denounced for its attempt to retake the Suez Canal (in league with the French and Israelis). I must admit that it was a moment in my life I had totally forgotten about until historian Alfred McCoy, whose new Dispatch Book, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, is due out in September, brought it to mind again. And I certainly hadn’t imagined that Suez might have any applicability to this moment. But almost 16 years after this country’s disastrous “war on terror” was launched and with yet another major Middle Eastern city in rubble, we are undoubtedly witnessing a change in the balance (or imbalance) of power on this unruly planet of ours — and who better to make sense of it than historian McCoy?

Think of him as a modern Edward Gibbon, writing in the twenty-first century on the decline and fall of a great empire. However, unlike Gibbon, who wrote his classic book on Rome centuries after its empire had disappeared from the face of the earth, McCoy has no choice but to deal with American decline contemporaneously — in, that is, the very act of its happening.

I had a canny friend who assured me a couple of decades ago that when European countries finally started saying no to Washington, I’d have a signal that I was on another planet. So we must now be on Mars. I was struck, for instance, by a recent piece in the Guardian describing the G20 summit as “the ‘G1’ versus the ‘G19.’” In other words, it’s increasingly Donald Trump’s Washington against the world, which is the definition of how not to make an empire work. Since imperial decline may, in fact, have been a significant factor in bringing Donald Trump to power, think of him as both its harbinger and — as McCoy so vividly describes today — its architect. Tom

The Demolition of U.S. Global Power 
Donald Trump’s Road to Debacle in the Greater Middle East 
By Alfred W. McCoy

The superhighway to disaster is already being paved.

From Donald Trump’s first days in office, news of the damage to America’s international stature has come hard and fast. As if guided by some malign design, the new president seemed to identify the key pillars that have supported U.S. global power for the past 70 years and set out to topple each of them in turn. By degrading NATO, alienating Asian allies, canceling trade treaties, and slashing critical scientific research, the Trump White House is already in the process of demolishing the delicately balanced architecture that has sustained Washington’s world leadership since the end of World War II.  However unwittingly, Trump is ensuring the accelerated collapse of American global hegemony.

Stunned by his succession of foreign policy blunders, commentators — left and right, domestic and foreign — have raised their voices in a veritable chorus of criticism. A Los Angeles Times editorial typically called him “so unpredictable, so reckless, so petulant, so full of blind self-regard, so untethered to reality” that he threatened to “weaken this country’s moral standing in the world” and “imperil the planet” through his “appalling” policy choices. “He’s a sucker who’s shrinking U.S. influence in [Asia] and helping make China great again,” wrote New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman after surveying the damage to the country’s Asian alliances from the president’s “decision to tear up the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal in his first week in office.”

The international press has been no less harsh. Reeling from Trump’s denunciation of South Korea’s free-trade agreement as “horrible” and his bizarre claim that the country had once been “a part of China,” Seoul’s leading newspaper, Chosun Ilboexpressed the “shock, betrayal, and anger many South Koreans have felt.” Assessing his first 100 days in office, Britain’s venerable Observer commented: “Trump’s crudely intimidatory, violent, know-nothing approach to sensitive international issues has encircled the globe from Moscow to the Middle East to Beijing, plunging foes and allies alike into a dark vortex of expanding strategic instability.”

For an American president to virtually walk out of his grand inaugural celebrations into such a hailstorm of criticism is beyond extraordinary. Having more or less exhausted their lexicon of condemnatory rhetoric, the usual crew of commentators is now struggling to understand how an American president could be quite so willfully self-destructive.

Britain’s Suez Crisis

Blitzed by an incessant stream of bizarre tweets and White House conspiracy theories, observers worldwide seem to have concluded that Donald Trump is a president like no other, that the situation he’s creating is without parallel, and that his foreign policy is already a disaster without precedent. After rummaging around in history’s capacious closet for some old suit that might fit him, analysts have failed to find any antecedent or analogue to adequately explain him.

Yet just 60 years ago, a crisis in the ever-volatile Middle East overseen by a bumbling, mistake-prone British leader helped create a great power debacle that offers insight into the Trumpian moment, a glimpse into possible futures, and a sense of the kind of decline that could lie in the imperial future of the United States.

In the early 1950s, Britain’s international position had many parallels with America’s today. After a difficult postwar recovery from the devastation of World War II, that country was enjoying robust employment, lucrative international investments, and the prestige of the pound sterling’s stature as the world’s reserve currency. Thanks to a careful withdrawal from its far-flung, global empire and its close alliance with Washington, London still enjoyed a sense of international influence exceptional for a small island nation of just 50 million people. On balance, Britain seemed poised for many more years of world leadership with all the accompanying economic rewards and perks.

Then came the Suez crisis. After a decade of giving up one colony after another, the accumulated stress of imperial retreat pushed British conservatives into a disastrous military intervention to reclaim Egypt’s Suez Canal.  This, in turn, caused a “deep moral crisis in London” and what one British diplomat would term the “dying convulsion of British imperialism.” In a clear instance of what historians call “micro-militarism” — that is, a bold military strike designed to recover fading imperial influence — Britain joined France and Israel in a misbegotten military invasion of Egypt that transformed slow imperial retreat into a precipitous collapse.

Just as the Panama Canal had once been a shining example for Americans of their nation’s global prowess, so British conservatives treasured the Suez Canal as a vital lifeline that tied their small island to its sprawling empire in Asia and Africa. A few years after the canal’s grand opening in 1869, London did the deal of the century, scooping up Egypt’s shares in it for a bargain basement price of £4 million.  Then, in 1882, Britain consolidated its control over the canal through a military occupation of Egypt, reducing that ancient land to little more than an informal colony.

As late as 1950, in fact, Britain still maintained 80,000 soldiers and a string of military bases astride the canal. The bulk of its oil and gasoline, produced at the enormous Abadan refinery in the Persian Gulf, transited through Suez, fueling its navy, its domestic transportation system, and much of its industry.

After British troops completed a negotiated withdrawal from Suez in 1955, the charismatic nationalist leader Gamal Abdel Nasser asserted Egypt’s neutrality in the Cold War by purchasing Soviet bloc arms, raising eyebrows in Washington. In July 1956, after the administration of President Dwight Eisenhower had in response reneged on its promise to finance construction of the Aswan High Dam on the Upper Nile, Nasser sought alternative financing for this critical infrastructure by nationalizing the Suez Canal.  In doing so, he electrified the Arab world and elevated himself to the top rank of world leaders.

Although British ships still passed freely through the canal and Washington insisted on a diplomatic resolution of the conflict, Britain’s conservative leadership reacted with irrational outrage. Behind a smokescreen of sham diplomacy designed to deceive Washington, their closest ally, the British foreign secretary met secretly with the prime ministers of France and Israel near Paris to work out an elaborately deceptive two-stage invasion of Egypt by 250,000 allied troops, backed by 500 aircraft and 130 warships.  Its aim, of course, was to secure the canal.

On October 29, 1956, the Israeli army led by the dashing General Moshe Dayan swept across the Sinai Peninsula, destroying Egyptian tanks and bringing his troops to within 10 miles of the canal. Using this fighting as a pretext for an intervention to restore peace, Anglo-French amphibious and airborne forces quickly joined the attack, backed by a devastating bombardment from six aircraft carriers that destroyed the Egyptian air forceincluding over a hundred of its new MiG jet fighters. As Egypt’s military collapsed with some 3,000 of its troops killed and 30,000 captured, Nasser deployed a defense brilliant in its simplicity by scuttling dozens of rusting cargo ships filled with rocks and concrete at the entrance to the Suez Canal.  In this way, he closed Europe’s oil lifeline to the Persian Gulf.

Simultaneously, U.N. Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld, backed by Washington, imposed a cease-fire after just nine days of war, stopping the Anglo-French attack far short of capturing the entire canal. President Eisenhower’s blunt refusal to back his allies with either oil or money and the threat of condemnation before the U.N. soon forced Britain into a humiliating withdrawal. With its finances collapsing from the invasion’s soaring costs, the British government could not maintain the pound’s official exchange rate, degrading its stature as a global reserve currency.

The author of this extraordinary debacle was Sir Anthony Eden, a problematic prime minister whose career offers some striking parallels with Donald Trump’s. Born into privilege as the son of a landholder, Eden enjoyed a good education at a private school and an elite university. After inheriting a substantial fortune from his father, he entered politics as a conservative, using his political connections to dabble in finance. Chafing under Winston Churchill’s postwar leadership of the Conservative Party, Eden, who styled himself a rebel against hidebound institutions, used incessant infighting and his handsome head of hair to push the great man aside and become prime minister in 1955.

When Nasser nationalized the canal, Eden erupted with egotism, bluster, and outrage. “What’s all this nonsense about isolating Nasser,” Eden berated his foreign affairs minister. “I want him destroyed, can’t you understand? I want him murdered, and if you and the Foreign Office don’t agree, then you’d better come to the cabinet and explain why.” Convinced that Britain was still the globe’s great power, Eden rejected sound advice that he consult fully with Washington, the country’s closest ally. As his bold intervention plunged toward diplomatic disaster, the prime minister became focused on manipulating the British media, in the process confusing favorable domestic coverage with international support.

When Washington demanded a ceasefire as the price of a billion-dollar bailout for a British economy unable to sustain such a costly war, Eden’s bluster quickly crumbled and he denied his troops a certain victory, arousing a storm of protest in Parliament. Humiliated by the forced withdrawal, Eden compensated psychologically by ordering MI-6, Britain’s equivalent of the CIA, to launch its second ill-fated assassination attempt on Nasser. Since its chief local agent was actually a double-agent loyal to Nasser, Egyptian security had, however, already rounded up the British operatives and the weapons delivered for the contract killers proved duds.

Confronted with a barrage of angry questions in Parliament about his collusion with the Israelis, Eden lied repeatedly, swearing that there was no “foreknowledge that Israel would attack Egypt.” Protesters denounced him as “too stupid to be a prime minister,” opposition members of parliament laughed openly when he appeared before Parliament, and his own foreign affairs minister damned him as “an enraged elephant charging senselessly at… imaginary enemies.”

Just weeks after the last British soldier left Egypt, Eden, discredited and disgraced, was forced to resign after only 21 months in office. Led into this unimaginably misbegotten operation by his delusions of omnipotence, he left the once-mighty British lion a toothless circus animal that would henceforth roll over whenever Washington cracked the whip.

Trump’s Demolition Job

Despite the obvious differences in their economic circumstances, there remain some telling resonances between Britain’s postwar politics and America’s troubles today. Both of these fading global hegemons suffered a slow erosion of economic power in a fast-changing world, producing severe social tensions and stunted political leaders. Britain’s Conservative Party leadership had declined from the skilled diplomacy of Disraeli, Salisbury, and Churchill to Eden’s bluster and blunder.  Similarly, the Republican Party has descended from the likes of Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and George H.W. Bush to a field of 17 primary candidates in 2016 who promised to resolve an infinitely complex crisis in the Middle East through a set of incendiary policies that included making desert sands glow from carpet-bombing and forcing terrorists to capitulate through torture. Confronted with daunting international challenges, the voters of both countries supported appealing but unstable leaders whose delusions of omnipotence inclined them to military misadventures.

Like British citizens of the 1950s, most Americans today do not fully grasp the fragility of their status as “the leader of the free world.” Indeed, Washington has been standing astride the globe as a superpower for so long that most of its leaders have almost no understanding of the delicate design of their country’s global power built so carefully by two post-World War II presidents.

Under Democratic President Harry Truman, Congress created the key instruments for Washington’s emerging national security state and its future global dominion by passing the National Security Act of 1947 that established the Air Force, the CIA, and two new executive agencies, the Defense Department and the National Security Council. To rebuild a devastated, war-torn Europe, Washington launched the Marshall Plan and then turned such thinking into a worldwide aid program through the U.S. Agency for International Development meant to embed American power globally and support pro-American elites across the planet. Under Truman as well, U.S. diplomats forged the NATO alliance (which Washington would dominate until the Trump moment), advanced European unity, and signed a parallel string of mutual-defense treaties with key Asian allies along the Pacific littoral, making Washington the first power in two millennia to controlboth “axial ends” of the strategic Eurasian continent.

During the 1950s, Republican President Dwight Eisenhower deployed this national security apparatus to secure Washington’s global dominion with a nuclear triad (bombers, ballistic missiles, and submarines), a chain of military bases that ringed Eurasia, and a staggering number of highly militarized covert operations to assure the ascent of loyal allies worldwide. Above all, he oversaw the integration of the latest in scientific and technological research into the Pentagon’s weapons procurement system through the forging of the famed “military-industrial complex” (against which he would end up warning Americans as he left office in 1961).   All this, in turn, fostered an aura of American power so formidable that Washington could re-order significant parts of the world almost at will, enforcing peace, setting the international agenda, and toppling governments on four continents.

While it’s reasonable to argue that Washington had by then become history’s greatest global power, its hegemony, like that of all the world empires that preceded it, remained surprisingly fragile. Skilled leadership was required to maintain the system’s balance of diplomacy, military power, economic strength, and technological innovation.

By the time President Trump took his oath of office, negative, long-term trends had already started to limit the influence of any American leader on the world stage.  These included a declining share of the global economy, an erosion of U.S. technological primacy, an inability to apply its overwhelming military power in a way that achieved expected policy goals on an ever more recalcitrant planet, and a generation of increasingly independent national leaders, whether in Europe, Asia, or Latin America.

Apart from such adverse trends, Washington’s global power rested on such strategic fundamentals that its leaders might still have managed carefully enough to maintain a reasonable semblance of American hegemony: notably, the NATO alliance and Asian mutual-security treaties at the strategic antipodes of Eurasia, trade treaties that reinforced such alliances, scientific research to sustain its military’s technological edge, and leadership on international issues like climate change.

In just five short months, however, the Trump White House has done a remarkable job of demolishing these very pillars of U.S. global power. During his first overseas trip in May 2017, President Trump chastised stone-faced NATO leaders for failure to pay their “fair share” into the military part of the alliance and refused to affirm its core principle of collective defense. Ignoring the pleas of these close allies, he then forfeited America’s historic diplomatic leadership by announcing Washington’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord with all the drama of a reality television show. After watching his striking repudiation of Washington’s role as world leader, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told voters in her country that “we must fight for our future on our own, for our destiny as Europeans.”

Along the strategic Pacific littoral, Trump cancelled the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact on taking office and gratuitously alienated allies by cutting short a courtesy phone call to Australia’s prime minister and insulting South Korea to the point where its new president won office, in part, on a platform of “say no” to America. When President Moon Jae-in visited Washington in June, determined to heal the breach between the two countries, he was, as the New York Times reported, blindsided by “the harshness of Mr. Trump’s critique of South Korea on trade.”

Just days after Trump dismissed Moon’s suggestion that the two countries engage in actual diplomatic negotiations with Pyongyang, North Korea successfully test-fired a ballistic missile potentially capable of reaching Alaska or possibly Hawaii with a nuclear warhead (though experts believe Pyongyang may still be years away from effectively fitting such a warhead to the missile).  It was an act that made those same negotiations Washington’s only viable option — apart from a second Korean War, which would potentially devastate both the region and the U.S. position as the preeminent international leader.

In other words, after 70 years of global dominion, America’s geopolitical command of the axial ends of Eurasia — the central pillars of its world power seems to be crumbling in a matter of months.

Instead of the diplomacy of presidents past, Trump and his advisers, especially his military men, have reacted to his first modest foreign crises as well as the everyday power questions of empire with outbursts akin to Anthony Eden’s.  Since January, the White House has erupted in sudden displays of raw military power that included a drone blitz of unprecedented intensity in Yemen to destroy what the president called a “network of lawless savages,” the bombardment of a Syrian air base with 59 Tomahawk missiles, and the detonation of the world’s largest non-nuclear bomb on a terrorist refuge in eastern Afghanistan.

While reveling in the use of such weaponry, Trump, by slashing federal funding for critical scientific research, is already demolishing the foundations for the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower’s successors, Republican and Democratic alike, so sedulously maintained for the last half-century. While China is ramping up its scientific research across the board, Trump has proposed what the American Association for Advancement of Science called “deep cuts to numerous research agencies” that will mean the eventual loss of the country’s technological edge. In the emerging field of artificial intelligence that will soon drive space warfare and cyber-warfare, the White House wants to reduce the 2018 budget for this critical research at the National Science Foundation to a paltry $175 million, even as Beijing is launching “a new multi-billion-dollar initiative” linked to building “military robots.”

A Future Debacle in the Greater Middle East

With a president who shares Sir Anthony Eden’s penchant for bravura, self-delusion, and impulsiveness, the U.S. seems primed for a twenty-first-century Suez of its own, a debacle in the Greater Middle East (or possibly elsewhere). From the disastrous expedition that ancient Athens sent to Sicily in 413 BCE to Britain’s invasion of Suez in 1956, embattled empires throughout the ages have often suffered an arrogance that drives them to plunge ever deeper into military misadventures until defeat becomes debacle, a misuse of armed force known technically among historians as micro-militarism. With the hubris that has marked empires over the millennia, the Trump administration is, for instance, now committed to extending indefinitely Washington’s failing war of pacification in Afghanistan with a new mini-surge of U.S. troops (and air power) in that classic “graveyard of empires.

So irrational, so unpredictable is such micro-militarism that even the most fanciful of scenarios can be outpaced by actual events, as was true at Suez. With the U.S. military stretched thin from North Africa to South Korea, with no lasting successes in its post-9/11 wars, and with tensions rising from the Persian Gulf and Syria to the South China Sea and the Koreas, the possibilities for a disastrous military crisis abroad seem almost unending. So let me pick just one possible scenario for a future Trumpian military misadventure in the Greater Middle East.  (I’m sure you’ll think of other candidates immediately.)

It’s the late spring of 2020, the start of the traditional Afghan fighting season, and a U.S. garrison in the city of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan is unexpectedly overrun by an ad hoc alliance of Taliban and Islamic State guerrillas. While U.S. aircraft are grounded in a blinding sand storm, the militants summarily execute their American captives, filming the gruesome event for immediate upload on the Internet. Speaking to an international television audience, President Trump thunders against “disgusting Muslim murderers” and swears he will “make the desert sands run red with their blood.” In fulfillment of that promise, an angry American theater commander sends B-1 bombers and F-35 fighters to demolish whole neighborhoods of Kandahar believed to be under Taliban control. In an aerial coup de grâce, AC-130-U “Spooky” gunships then rake the rubble with devastating cannon fire. The civilian casualties are beyond counting.

Soon, mullahs are preaching jihad from mosques across Afghanistan and far beyond. Afghan Army units, long trained by American forces to turn the tide of the war, begin to desert en masse. In isolated posts across the country, clusters of Afghan soldiers open fire on their American advisers in what are termed “insider” or “green-on-blue” attacks. Meanwhile, Taliban fighters launch a series of assaults on scattered U.S. garrisons elsewhere in the country, suddenly sending American casualties soaring. In scenes reminiscent of Saigon in 1975, U.S. helicopters rescue American soldiers and civilians from rooftops not just in Kandahar, but in several other provincial capitals and even Kabul.

Meanwhile, angry over the massive civilian casualties in Afghanistan, the anti-Muslim diatribes tweeted almost daily from the Oval Office, and years of depressed energy prices, OPEC’s leaders impose a harsh new oil embargo aimed at the United States and its allies. With refineries running dry in Europe and Asia, the world economy trembling at the brink of recession, and gas prices soaring, Washington flails about for a solution. The first call is to NATO, but the alliance is near collapse after four years of President Trump’s erratic behavior. Even the British, alienated by his inattention to their concerns, rebuff his appeals for support.

Facing an uncertain reelection in November 2020, the Trump White House makes its move, sending Marines and Special Operations forces to seize oil ports in the Persian Gulf. Flying from the Fifth Fleet’s base in Bahrain, Navy Seals and Army Rangers occupy the Ras Tanura refinery in Saudi Arabia, the ninth largest in the world; Kuwait’s main oil port at Shuaiba; and Iraq’s at Um Qasr.

Simultaneously, the light carrier USS Iwo Jima steams south at the head of a task force that launches helicopters carrying 6,000 Special Operations forces tasked with seizing the al-Ruwais refinery in Abu Dhabi, the world’s fourth largest, and the megaport at Jebel Ali in Dubai, a 20-square-mile complex so massive that the Americans can only occupy its oil facilities. When Teheran vehemently protests the U.S. escalation in the Persian Gulf and hints at retaliation, Defense Secretary James Mattis, reviving a plan from his days as CENTCOM commander, orders preemptive Tomahawk missile strikes on Iran’s flagship oil refinery at Abadan.

From its first hours, the operation goes badly wrong. The troops seem lost inside the unmapped mazes of pipes that honeycomb the oil ports.  Meanwhile, refinery staff prove stubbornly uncooperative, sensing that the occupation will be short-lived and disastrous. On day three, Iranian Revolutionary Guard commandos, who have been training for this moment since the breakdown of the 2015 nuclear accord with the U.S., storm ashore at the Kuwaiti and Emirate refineries with remote-controlled charges. Unable to use their superior firepower in such a volatile environment, American troops are reduced to firing futile bursts at the departing speed boats as oil storage tanks and gas pipes explode spectacularly.

Three days later, as the USS Gerald Ford approaches an Iranian island, more than 100 speedboats suddenly appear, swarming the carrier in a practiced pattern of high-speed crisscrosses. Every time lethal bursts from the carrier’s MK-38 chain guns rip through the lead boats, others emerge from the flames coming closer and closer. Concealed by clouds of smoke, one finally reaches an undefended spot beneath the conning tower near enough for a Revolutionary guardsman to attach a magnetic charge to the hull with a fateful click. There is a deafening roar and a gaping hole erupts at the waterline of the first aircraft carrier to be crippled in battle since World War II.  As things go from bad to worse, the Pentagon is finally forced to accept that a debacle is underway and withdraws its capital ships from the Persian Gulf.

As black clouds billow skyward from the Gulf’s oil ports and diplomats rise at the U.N. to bitterly denounce American actions, commentators worldwide reach back to the 1956 debacle that marked the end of imperial Britain to brand this “America’s Suez.” The empire has been trumped.

Alfred W. McCoy, a TomDispatch regular, is the Harrington professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of the now-classic book The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, which probed the conjuncture of illicit narcotics and covert operations over 50 years, and the forthcoming In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power, out in September from Dispatch Books.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, as well as John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2017 Alfred W. McCoy

We’ve got our Backs Against the Wall

                                            [short story, by Sha’Tara]

James Macken closes down his netbook and goes looking for his daughter.  Twelve year old Ellie or “Elle” Macken is leaning on the railing of the cabin’s small patio, looking intently into the night sky.  There is no moon and the stars, this high in the Coast Mountains, shine brightly.  Despite a light breeze blowing from the west, the summer night remains warm. 

His voice breaks the night’s silence, “Elle?”

“I’m over here, dad.”

James walks over to her and leans on the railing, his face following where she was staring.  “What’s up there, Elle?”

“ I don’t know, dad.  I just feel so funny, so detached, all of a sudden.”

“Funny, like how?”  He isn’t joking or pretending.  He’d learned long ago to take his daughter very seriously or else.  She was already a very deep thinker, or perhaps more of a thinking machine.  Her thoughts are her reality.

“Well it’s like this.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, mostly about my future… well really, the future of this world, and however I extrapolate my thoughts on it, I don’t seem able to picture any sane, safe, comfortable or desirable future.  OK, so here we are, out here almost by ourselves in these mountainous wilds and it’s really nice.  Don’t get me wrong, dad, I love it here, and I’m very grateful that you got us this place where I can spend some of my summer vacations, and I wish mom was alive and with us now… but this is an illusion, isn’t it?  We’ve got our backs against the wall, haven’t we?”

“I should understand you by now, Elle, but what exactly do you mean?”

“I mean, dad, this planet has no future as long as mankind, as “we” continue to take over and basically eat it alive.  We are a disease, dad, can’t you see?” 

James Macken is no fool.  He knows exactly what his daughter is saying and he’d be the last person to contradict her observations.  In a purely technical sense, she is correct: man is destroying the world, the only world he knows, or can have on which to live.  Man is destroying his own living space without the least hope of gaining access to another should this one become unlivable.  But he’s a forty-two year old research scientist while his child is but a twelve year old who has yet to commit to any discipline.  She’s expressing her emotions about what she sees, hears and reads.  He’s thinking that perhaps with puberty in the offing she’ll give more attention to another side of life: romance, and girl stuff.  But then, some never do, and based on her IQ scores it could well be that Elle may not pay much attention to that side of life.  

“I’m not certain you’re giving us a chance here, Elle.  Not everybody is a destroyer of nature.”

“Of course I know that, dad.  Most of my teachers are quite keen on making us aware of the problems this world is facing in the immediate future – that being my future – but you know?  Most of the kids just smirk, or laugh, or ask really dumb questions, especially when we discuss climate change, for example.  People really don’t care, dad.  And you know what’s the saddest part?  Those who make the laws, the politicians; those who sell stuff, the corporations, it’s the “don’t care” crowd they rely on for votes and consuming!  So, how can anything change?  How can anything get better?”

“You care, don’t you?  There must be others like you in your school?”

“Not many.  What if we were one in a hundred – what sort of balance is that?  We can talk but then we’re made fun of and ostracized.  Most kids can’t go it alone, dad.  They need friends and they’ll do almost anything to have friends.  So, statistically, the “don’t care” crowd, being the vast majority, forms the winning pool and those who care stop caring to fit in.”

“Sometimes when I listen to you, I think you were born old, Elle.  I love you, you know that, don’t you?” 

She puts her arm around his waist and looks in his face; “I know dad.  I know.  But I’m growing up fast and soon I’ll be on my own, having to live with myself.  I’ll be the product of my own thoughts and I’ll have to confront a world that is totally alien to the way I think.  You know what dad?  I’m truly scared.  So scared that often I think I should just, you know, call it quits and leave…”

“Elle!”

“I’m being totally honest with you dad.  When mom died, I nearly did it; I wanted so to follow her.  But you were there, as you’re here, and I didn’t want to leave you behind and I knew you wouldn’t come after us, so I stayed.  But for two years I haven’t been able to shake the idea that perhaps I would be much better off if I died.  How can I really live if I can’t see a future for myself?  What’s to live for, dad?  All the things I love and care about are being killed and destroyed.  The world, my piece of the world, is becoming noisier, dirtier and more dangerous all the time.  Something’s so wrong.  There’s what they call “degeneracy” happening all around and the more of that there is, it’s like stepping in swamp mud, you don’t know how deep you’ll sink or if you’ll be swallowed whole.  On top of that you’re getting older too, and you will die and then I’ll have nobody, nobody at all.  That’s not a challenge to me, that’s a nightmare.”

“You’re not alone in that, Elle.  But I think you’re both, over-thinking, and under-thinking this whole thing.  Isn’t it possible that in a couple of years you’ll fall in love with a boy who is really nice – can’t imagine you falling for some cretin – and he’ll become your world for a while?  Then you’ll go to college and find some subjects you really like, pursue a career and then meet the man you will want to marry.  Likely you will have kids and you’ll have your own family, make your own world.”

She sighs and leans into him.  He can feel her vulnerability, wishing he had something better to offer her.  “I’ve thought about that dad.  It’s soothing sometimes but it changes nothing.  When I speak of the future, I mean “the” future, not just something I’ll carve out and struggle to keep for myself.  How could I, in conscience, have kids if I can’t give them a real future?  That would be horribly irresponsible of me.  I have to be sure and what I’m sure of isn’t conducive to a peaceful and safe life.  There’s something seriously wrong with all of our lives; with our life as a people, and I really hate it that I’m one of the very few who can see this, and actually cares about it.  I don’t like being alone but I have no choice, see?  And what if I found someone who thought like me, was like me, how could we ever have a happy life knowing, and living with, what we know?  What would be the point of trying to live together if we decided to spend all our time fighting for causes that take us away from each other, or worse, that land us in jail?”

“I’ll be totally honest with you too, Elle.  I truly don’t know.  I know that I love you deeply.  You’re all that I have left of Amber, of your mother, and you’re so like her in many ways, but so different in others.  I admire your intelligence even though it makes it very challenging for me to keep up with you.  I think I’ll stop trying to do that, just try to be your friend for now.  What you say about leaving breaks my heart, but I know you know that.  So instead of panicking about what you may decide to do with your life… I’ll make a friend’s pact with you.  Hear me out and let me know if we have a deal.  If you come to the end of your road, and you are convinced it is the end, I promise not to stand in your way.  You can even tell me that you are leaving, and I’ll let you go.  I won’t help you, and I don’t want to know the details, but I promise to honor your choices, your decisions and most certainly, your memory.  In this, our private world, Elle, you are no longer a child.  Make your own choices and I will support you as best I can.  Deal?”

“Oh, dad, no one can ever have had a better father.  I love you too; I can feel that so deeply.”  And in between deep sobs, she finally managed to say, “We have a deal, dad.  Thank you for giving me my freedom to choose.” 

 

 

The Years of Purple Mountains

[a poem by   ~burning woman~]

 How well I remember
The years of purple mountains
Rising above morning mists
In a distant west;
Of bright blue skies
Dotted with white clouds
Shadowing green hills
And higher still
Dark lines of evergreens
Demarcation between grass
And stark grey rocky faces,
Postcard of nature’s mantle.

I remember placid cows
Peacefully grazing
Rolling fields of rich clover;
Colourful barns and tall silos
Enclosed in white fences
And colts galloping freely
While a mighty river
Flowed majestically
To the grey ocean.

How well I remember
Those years of growing up,
Dreaming of such a land
As images passed by
On the breakfast table
Day after day after day:
Pretty labels, pretty ads
On cans of milk;
On cereal boxes
That fed childhood dreams.

Years later I did see
The purple mountains in morning mists,
The placid cows and gamboling colts.
I saw that river flowing to the grey ocean,
Made my home by it’s shores
And learned to paddle its currents.
I smelled the spring flowers;
Tasted the briny air while watching
Grey waves slither and slide
Over gravelly and sandy shores

And I fell in love.  Long ago.

Now many more years have passed:
The mountains are scarred,
Dry and dead, snows melted off;
Streams of mud and slash
Fill a poisoned river with mud;
Gated communities and high-rises
Replace the grass, feedlots
Mud and steel replace white fences
And flowers no longer grow
Along the roadsides.

One generation, armed with science
Technology and moved by greed:
All it took to kill it all. 
Has this horror made it stop?
No. Like the forever war,
The killing continues apace.

Death, the only possible legacy
of a generation of the entitled.

Paraphrase:  Esau came back from his fields hungry.  His brother Jacob had a pot of beans cooking on the fire and the smell stirred up his hunger even more.  Give me some of your beans, Jacob, I’m dying of hunger.  Jacob replied, I’ll feed you if you trade me your elder’s birthright for my beans.  Esau reasoned thus, What good is a birthright when I’m dying of hunger?  He made the trade, sold his birthright for a “mess of pottage.” There be a lesson never learned in that biblical tale.    

There Are Times…

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]

There are times when, as I read stuff, I wish I was an Android with a hard drive instead of a leaky human brain so I could store all the information and have it “there” at my fingertips (so to speak) when I think about something, or quote something I’ve read, with full ability to regain the context of it.  “Sigh!” – it doesn’t seem to be happening.  Oh well, at least I have learned to speed things up in collecting information; to turn my email program (that wonderful Microsoft Outlook 2002 which nothing can touch for clarity and efficiency) into a library of congress sort of filing system…

Here are a few “odds ‘n ends” from my eclectic collection of thoughts and ideas and word imagery.

CRONY CAPITALISM is a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state interventionism.

THEREMIN:  electronic musical instrument played without touching, invented by a Russian physicist, Leon Theremin circa 1919 (patented in 1928).  Used in popular music of many movie soundtracks.

ANODYNE PHRASE is a weak statement intended to hide an ugly truth. Another name for that would be political correctness.

UTILITARIANISM: Doctrine that the useful is the good; especially as elaborated by Jeremy Bentham and James Mill; the aim was said to be the greatest happiness for the greatest number. (Imagine that!  The more you slave for your elites, the happier you will be!)

THE EASIEST WAY to solve a problem is to deny its existence (Isaac Asimov)

ELECTRICITY is NOT an energy SOURCE.

IF THE CIA ever told the truth, it would genetically implode (David Icke)

THE GREAT PYRAMID weighs 6 million tons; covers 13 acres; is 750’ per side; 481’ tall and contains over 2.5 million individual blocks of stone.  None of this answers my question: why was it built, and by whom?

AMERICAN EXEPTIONALISM:  the US’s power to make and break deals world-wide with no accountability to results.

I AM WRITING the book of human sins.  When I’m done I’ll cast it into the fire and all their sins will be gone. (The Island – Russian movie)

THE UNTIED NATIONS – once known as the United Nations…

BRICS nations: Brazil, Russia, India, China, S. Africa.

IDIOCRACY:  It’s hard to be smart with so many dopamine-producing distractions and so much online approval for our uneducated opinions. (from a Joel Stein article in Times magazine)

DONALD TRUMP, proud President of Saudi America.

EGREGIOUS:  conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible (and didn’t I just mention Donald Trump?)

ECONOMICS is not a science, it’s a set of values pretending to be science.

IT’S DISCOURAGING to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit (Noel Coward)

IT IS MY OPINION, subject to change only under extreme duress, that mankind (Earthians as my Teachers call them) were genetically engineered and remain unnaturally so.  That tends to explain a few ridiculous things the species clings to as if its survival depended on them, like Religion, Politics and Money. 

SOME WORDS that need re-defining:  salacious means lust or moral looseness whereas pulchritude means a physically beautiful woman.  I would turn those definitions around.  Salacious sounds so much nicer than pulchritude, I mean, really…

PRECARIAT: the growing majority population whose lives are marked by precariousness, lack, anxiety and fear.

USSA, acronym for United Slave States of America.  Another acronym that needs no interpretation: UKKKA.

PSYCHIATRY is the science of lies. (Thomas Szaz)

FEDERAL RESERVES is a parasite.

THE SUREST SIGN that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us. (Bill Waterson)

WHY THE MILITARY needs so much money to accomplish so little is explained by this military description of a screwdriver – “rotational torque-adjustable fastener applicator.” 

WHEN FACTS don’t fit preconceptions, deny the facts.

US DIPLOMACY can be fully explained in three words: Convert, Co-opt, Conquer.  

A FORTNIGHT is 14 consecutive days, or two weeks.  (Go figure that one out!)

DEMOCRACY is a chimera invented to keep the bottom dwellers in their place without having to resort to police state brutality or chancing violent revolutions.  Democracy and Capitalism are diametrical opposites, but who notices these little things?

PEOPLE in general have an innate need to find something larger than themselves to be a part of. (Matthew Quirk)

CANT: stock phrases become nonsense through endless repetition.

AD HOMINEM: appealing to personal considerations rather than to facts or reason.

TUGAREZ VRAS means “Thank you” in Breton.  (That should be my mother tongue but my parents didn’t use it so defaulted to French.  Life can be so unfair…)

… and finally, let’s give full credit to computerization when it is due.  In looking up the word “eclectic” in my Wordweb dictionary using the control-right click sequence, this was the result: word not found:  “Lrzlililfiwlectiifrzlfilnrs”  – I couldn’t make that up!  (Maybe I should re-think that android brain?)